Sam Tickell was at Rally Australia over the weekend working with the organisers. He caught some action for RacerViews over the weekend too. Here is the WRC
Sébastien Ogier led Volkswagen’s first podium clean sweep at Coates Hire Rally Australia as the German squad secured its second consecutive FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ crown.
The Frenchman held off team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in a tense final leg to win the three-day gravel event, round nine of 13, by 6.8sec in a Polo R. Andreas Mikkelsen completed the podium lockout in third, a further 1min 11.2sec behind.
Latvala won the rally-closing live TV Power Stage to take maximum bonus points. Ogier claimed two points for second with Kris Meeke taking one in a Citroen DS3.
Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Absolutely fantastic. I am made up for our team! They really deserve this success so much. It is hard to put this feeling into words. The fact that we have wrapped up the World Championship title with the first ever all-Volkswagen podium is an incredible success. We can really be proud of ourselves today, here at the other end of the world. Julien and I tried to control our slender advantage over my team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala right through to the finish – and it worked out. I think we put on an exciting duel at the top for the fans. It is awesome that Andreas Mikkelsen and Ola Fløene rounded off this triumph for the team. A win would be enough for me to secure the Drivers’ title now. It would be magnificent to pull it off in France.”
Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“A fantastic success. I am delighted for the entire team. The Manufacturers’ title is a great recognition of the fact that everyone at Volkswagen has been utterly committed to being successful, and also shows that the Polo is the best rally car around. We also produced some first-class racing again – Miikka and I tried to put Sébastien and Julien under pressure right up until the finish, but they were unbeatable. Congratulations on a deserved win. I am very happy with my own performance. Unfortunately we lost crucial seconds with the wrong tyre selection, which probably cost us the win. In any case, it is phenomenal to stand here on the podium with all three Polos. There can be no better way to win a World Championship title.”
Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“What an incredible result for the entire team. World Champions, and with the team’s very first one-two-three to boot. I am delighted for all the mechanics, engineers and helpers who have made this possible, here in Australia and throughout the entire season. We had a huge lead over fourth place going into the final six special stages, but we could not do much in the way of catching the two cars ahead of us. Caught in no man’s land, our priority was to control our pace so that we did not make any mistakes and brought the result home. My goal ahead of the rally was to defend my advantage over fourth place in the World Championship. We have actually managed to increase it. I am absolutely delighted with my fourth podium of the year. Today is just a fantastic day.”
Kris Meeke: “It’s a bit of a strange feeling… To be honest, I think this is my strongest performance so far this season, even though we have finished fourth with the penalty. Seb and Jari are still out of reach for the moment. In Finland, in Germany and this week in Australia, we have been fighting at the front. This is my first full season in WRC, but I feel I’m getting stronger and stronger. We’ll have to keep it up at the Rallye de France.”
Mads Østberg: “It was a tough weekend for us although we did improve the more stages we completed. We were able to show our speed and managed to defend our position against Hayden Paddon. Unfortunately, we had a damaged rear suspension arm on the penultimate stage. We were able to repair it in order to finish the race, but we were really unlucky. We’ll have to switch our focus now to the Rallye de France, Citroën’s home event.”
Mikko Hirvonen (5th) said:
“We wanted to be in the fight for the podium this weekend. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, but it wasn’t a bad weekend for us at all and we had a good fight with Kris [Meeke] towards the end. We gave it everything we had but Kris [Meeke] was just that little bit faster on every stage today.
“As I say it wasn’t a bad weekend. I was really happy with my driving and we’re up to fourth in the championship now – I think we can be pleased with that.”
Elfyn Evans (8th) said:
“Our objective wasn’t to show speed here this weekend. It was all about learning the stages and the environment. Even though it was a little frustrating at times, I think we managed to do that.
“I think we showed some good pace as the third car on the road today and the driving felt a lot more natural and better than it had been previously. We’ve learnt the stages and got a good set of notes so I think we’re in a position to come back much stronger next year. These stages are amazing and I can’t wait to come back and drive them at full speed.”
Robert Kubica (9th) said:
“We’ve had a good weekend with some very good driving on these difficult stages. I think the biggest challenge was that the character of the stages was changing all the time so that took a bit of getting used to but I think we did a good job.
“Ok, there was a mistake yesterday, but that was not a fault through driving. I was distracted by a warning light and it cost us quite a lot of time but we made it to the finish.
“The most important thing is that I have enjoyed this event and that I have enjoyed driving on gravel. I think that we’ve been driving well on this surface and I hope we can show some more progress on this surface later in the season.”
Haydon Paddon : “I am pleased with our performance and our sixth place result here this weekend. We have made some good changes to the car over the course of this rally and have really been able to feel the improvements. The fight for sixth place with Mads was exciting, it’s not often you get a fight like that on your hands on the Sunday. Overall, we’ve been more competitive this weekend and we’ve made another good step compared to our last rally in Finland; that’s the most important thing.”
Thierry Neuville: “We’ve had a pretty good final day. There hasn’t been any reason to push hard so we have just tried to enjoy driving and changing some settings in between the stages to find some improvements on the car. It has been a valuable rally for the team’s first trip to Australia and I think we have learned a lot of things. It was a shame that we lost the time on Friday after damaging the suspension when we hit a rock on the fifth stage but other than that, we have shown a decent performance here this weekend.”
Chris Atkinson: “I’ve had a pretty steady run today and the car was working perfectly. We’ve not been in a position to fight for anything so it’s been important just to bring the car home, so the team can pick up as much information as possible. The stages today have been in a good condition and the crowds have been phenomenal. It’s not been the easiest of weekends as I struggled to get into a rhythm early on in the rally and that has had a knock-on effect for the remaining days, as I was first on the road. That has dictated the extent I have been able to push so instead we just focussed on finishing the rally. It’s nice we’ve been able to get all three cars inside the top ten.”
By Sam Tickell, September 2014
Words by PR materials
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